IF YOU RUN a small business, you always need
more time. ;ere’s never enough time to deal with
customers, employees, vendors, developing new
products and so on, not to mention all that red tape.
Imagine if you had an extra hour every day. Well,
I’m here to share seven secrets of productive entrepreneurs who squeeze more time out of their overly
1. Do one thing at a time. Most entrepreneurs
are great multitaskers, but doing too many things at
once is actually less productive. ;at means your
to-do list keeps getting longer. Set aside time to
focus on just one task and ;nish it.
2. Just say no. ;e easiest way to keep something o; your to-do list is to not put it on there in the
;rst place. Before you take on a clearly di;cult client
or a new project, stop and ask yourself, “What’s this
going to do for my workweek and my bottom line?”
3. Delegate. Sure, you can do everything yourself, and probably better than an employee or contractor. But isn’t your time better used on
income-producing activities rather than ordering
o;ce supplies or standing in line at the post o;ce?
Get help, and then delegate.
4. Automate. Look at tasks and processes you
do repeatedly. Are you still doing them by hand or
with an old so;ware program? You can probably do
them faster and better with a cloud-based applica-
tion. Tasks such as paying recurring bills, schedul-
ing social media posts or preparing payroll can be
done automatically or made easier if you choose the
right online program, such as QuickBooks Payroll,
which is what I use.
5. Block websites for an hour, or two. If you’re
working on the web, it’s easy to surf over to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or the news. ;ere goes
30 minutes. Use an app that lets you block websites
you choose for times you set, such as Self Control
( selfcontrolapp.com) for Macs, Freedom ( freedom.to)
for PCs and Macs, and the extension StayFocusd,
for users of the Chrome browser (chrome.google.
6. Make a list at the end of the day. Organize
tomorrow’s tasks at the end of the day so you can
dive right in the next morning.
7. Just do it. Most things you do in your small
business don’t have to be perfect. Sure, if you manufacture heart valves, you’d better sweat the small
stu;. But your email newsletter? Just get it out
there already. C
BY SONYA STINSON
WE OFTEN THINK of the long hours small-business owners put in at the office as proof
of their passion. But while a survey by The
Alternative Board, an organization that provides business coaching and setup of peer
advisory boards for small businesses (the
alternativeboard.com), found that nearly one
in five entrepreneurs worked more than 60
hours a week, only 1 percent of those toilers
actually wanted to work that much. Most
were dreaming of the day when they could
cut back and spend more time on family, leisure travel and fitness.
Here are three rules for overworked
entrepreneurs who long to get a better life.
Decide what matters to you. “We need
to realize that we own our businesses—they
don’t own us—and we own our time,” says
Costco member Colin McLetchie, founder
and president of Five Ways Forward (fiveways
forward.com), a leadership, career and busi-
ness coaching consultancy in Arlington,
Virginia. “How we spend our time is the clear-
est expression of what we value.”
Breaking the chains of your to-do list can
be hard, so start small, McLetchie says. Resolve
to take a friend to lunch and not check your
smartphone through the whole meal. Get
some exercise with a walking meeting out-
side instead of sitting at your desk all day.
Temper the perfectionism that keeps
you from delegating. Instead of insisting that
every work-related task be done “right,” in a
way that only you can perform, focus more
on ensuring that it’s done well, McLetchie
advises. When you make this attitude shift, it
becomes easier to rely on the abilities and
expertise of others. “There’s space for them to
show up,” he says.
Build recovery time into your hectic
schedule. That means more than just getting
enough sleep, McLetchie says: “It’s about
planning your day and taking the time to
spend 10 or 15 minutes in quiet reflection, to
do some meditation or prayer—or whatever
works for you.” He adds that you might steal
those extra moments by trimming the usual
one-hour meetings to 50 minutes.
In the end, choosing to make time for
your health and the relationships you value
outside of work could help make your business more successful. “Research has proven
that when we cultivate a healthful way of
being in our whole life, we show up better at
work,” McLetchie says. “We are more productive. We are more innovative.” C
Sonya Stinson is a New Orleans–based writer
who covers business, careers and lifestyle topics.
Gain an hour a day
Making time for life
Rhonda Abrams’ newest
book is Entrepreneurship:
A Real-World Approach
(Planning Shop, 2012; not
available at Costco). Register
for her free business-tips newsletter at planningshop.com.
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